U.K. House Prices 'Could Top £1 Million' in 16 Years

04/02/2016_Osborne
Britain's Chancellor George Osborne visits a housing development, February 4. His government has been accused of not doing enough to build affordable homes. Peter Byrne/Pool/Reuters

Britain's former deputy prime minister has accused the Tory government of a "radical departure" on housing policy from when he was in office, as his party unveiled figures that claim the U.K.'s average home price could top £1 million ($1.4 million) within 16 years.

Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat MP who served as No. 2 in Britain's coalition government from 2010-15, said in parliament on Tuesday that the government's expansion of its "right to buy" housing policy, which lets tenants buy their social homes, would "only help a tiny, tiny fraction of people."

Liberal Democrat research shows that someone leaving university today will face a massive challenge getting onto the first rung of the property ladder. The average property price in the U.K. will reach £650,000 ($940,000) within a decade, the party says.

If nothing is done to alleviate the rising prices, the research adds, the average price will eventually top the million mark. The claims come from analysis of official statistics, but assume a continuous, stable upward trend in house prices in the U.K. Such a scenario is unlikely as government policy and changes in the wider economy will likely influence prices.

The figures also predict that the price of an average home in London will top £1 million by 2021. Prices in the capital will increase by more than twice as much as in the next highest region, southeast England, the party says.

"Everyone deserves a decent home to call their own," party leader Tim Farron said. "The aspirational and entrepreneurial classes are seeing the ladder of home ownership kicked away from under them. The government's schemes are merely a poor sticking plaster."

The Liberal Democrats are calling for the government to implement a plan to build "enough affordable homes for young people to rent and buy in the communities where they live," including letting local councils borrow more money to build.